Kicker Cairo Santos, one of three undrafted rookies to make the Chiefs’ 53-man roster, is believed to be the first Brazilian-born player to make an opening-day NFL roster.
It’s headline news in his hometown of Sao Paulo.
“Everyone is freaking out,” Santos said. “When I step on the field, I’ll be the first Brazilian to ever play in the NFL, and that’s something people love down there. Football is growing in Brazil, so it’s great to represent my country and be a part of it.”
Santos began kicking as a foreign-exchange student in St. Augustine, Fla. That led him to Tulane, where he won the Lou Groza Award in 2012, and eventually to Kansas City, where he beat out veteran Ryan Succop for the place-kicking job this season.
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Succop, as it turns out, has signed with Tennessee, the Chiefs’ opening-day opponent on Sunday. Tennessee released a Brazilian kicker, Maikon Bonani, who also is from Sao Paulo, in the roster cutdown to 53 players.
The Cincinnati Bengals took Brazilian-born Damian Vaughn in the seventh round of the 1998 draft, but he never appeared in a game.
Rookie free agents
Besides Santos, safety Daniel Sorensen (BYU) and wide receiver Albert Wilson (Georgia State) have made the opening-day roster. League-wide, 60 undrafted free agents made NFL clubs. Cleveland had the most with five.
At least one undrafted rookie has made the Chiefs’ roster for 12 straight years.
“Hard work,” said Wilson, a 5-foot-9, 200-pounder, of his beating the odds and making the roster. “I felt like I came in day-in and day-out just working hard, and tried to perfect my game and worry about what I had to do and my assignments.”
Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins (concussion), backup center Eric Kush (shoulder) and inside linebacker Joe Mays (wrist) did not practice Monday. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he believed both players will be available for the season opener Sunday.
Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and offensive tackle Donald Stephenson were not at the facility Monday as Bowe is serving a one-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse, and Stephenson is out for four games for violating the policy on performance enhancing drugs.
The Chiefs completed their 10-man practice squad with the signing of defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo, who was released by Pittsburgh.
Fangupo, 29, spent 15 weeks on Seattle’s practice squad in 2012 and appeared in one game. He appeared in four games for Pittsburgh last year. Fangupo played in college at Southern California in 2010 before transferring to BYU in 2011.
The Chiefs also released veteran wide receiver Kyle Williams, who missed all but four plays last year with a knee injury and suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason finale at Green Bay.
Besides Succop, the Titans will have three other former Chiefs on their roster: safety Bernard Pollard, running back/receiver Dexter McCluster and running back Jackie Battle.
Also, Titans long snapper Beau Brinkley, of Kearney, played at Missouri.